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Author Topic: Hidden antenna options ?  (Read 67088 times)

Posts: 127


« on: December 28, 2012, 08:33:58 AM »

Hello all and Merry Christmas,

Just completed a move to a new house in an area where antenna restrictions are not only strict, but they are also enforced...    Embarrassed Embarrassed

My new home is a townhouse just north of Toronto in Thornhill, a community with low buildings and a relative elevation compared to the GTA, hence the "hill" in it's name. Our front side has an excellent unobstructed southern exposure and the back side (northern) has a nice back yard but with the back of another house near when the yard ends, but with a relatively nice opening with a east/west opening.

After giving this a great deal of thought, and having discussed this with locals who did not approve of any kind of antenna, not even a window mounted one, I concluded that a hidden antenna is my only option.

Option 1: Magnetic loop or bend dipole installed in the free space of the garage roof/attic (south side)

Option 2: Vertical end fed folded dipole disguised as a small free standing flag pole installed at the back yard (radials not possible).

Option 3: A horizontal wire loop mounted on the back yard wooden fence, about 6 feet from the ground, or some sort of zig-zag pattern from fence side to side.

Option 4: Any kind of free standing antenna structure as long as it is under the back yard fence line...

I'm leaning towards the back yard, using the fence as an installation structure for a wire antenna, because construction will be easier and getting the feeding cable into the house is easier...

I welcome any thoughts or tips !

Demetre - VE3/SV1ENS

Posts: 1484

« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2012, 09:16:18 AM »

I've used horizontal loops a lot over the years, and I've always been satisfied with them.  Never quite as low as 6 feet (shouldn't you be saying 1.9meters?)  Wink  but I'm sure it would work.  One potential benefit to the fence-loop: if you feed it with twinlead from a tuner, you can use it easily on all bands, or darned near all, depending on how much fenceline you have to work with.   Good luck!

Posts: 100


« Reply #2 on: December 28, 2012, 10:29:55 AM »

So many options but not a lot of good options.

Now let me say I have a friend who lives in IN. His yard has no trees, he has no tower, but he does have a 7 foot wood fence around his back yard.

He has a G5RV installed along the top edge of that fence. I am not exactly sure what he does with the twin lead feed line but I can find out if you want me too.

He only runs 100 watts. But he manages to work DX with that setup on CW and by using the digital modes. He never operates SSB.

Not the ideal antenna setup for sure, but he is on the air and making contacts and having fun while doing so.

Maybe you can string up a wire just above the top edge of the fence. Use small magnet wire so it will be nearly invisible. Feed it with 300 ohm ladder line, which is small in size.

Or put the mag loop in the garage attic, or better yet mount it outside as it will be below the fence line and out of sight of neighbours.

Good luck, let us know how you make out. And if you are new to Ontario welcome to the province!

73, Rick VE3FMC

Posts: 5479


« Reply #3 on: December 28, 2012, 11:08:38 AM »

I would try all the above.  None of these options are good but when you're dealing with severe restrictions you want as many options as you can get.   Get a coax switch, a good tuner and pick the antenna that works the best for whatever band you're on.  I wouldn't limit myself to just one antenna.

Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM

Posts: 203

« Reply #4 on: December 28, 2012, 09:11:08 PM »

Another option is to erect a portable antenna when the opportunity exists.
I would use a 3-way mount ((For illustration only):
with a CGT-144 with 2 matching radials for 10 meters on my deck. 
I would take it down when I was finished.
You can also use the same mount with quarter wave lengths of wire cut to frequency.
After mounting the 3-way on the ground and a reasonable distance from the house,
attach the 3 wires, (radials and radiator) getting the radiator as high off the ground
as you can get it, even if you have to have it sloping.
If you don't have trees, mount the free end to your highest window in the back.
You're gonna need a bolt to match the threads of the antenna portion of the mount
and I've found them at any hardware store. 
Or, you can do the reverse, as this URL shows (for illustration only)

GL & 73.
Where there's a will, there's a way.
Greg, K3ANG 

Posts: 7718

« Reply #5 on: December 29, 2012, 06:31:19 AM »

What bands do you want to work?

Posts: 537

« Reply #6 on: December 29, 2012, 05:54:25 PM »

What about a flagpole with vertical wires for each band? I have seen this in some ARRL books.  Or how about a flagpole with a vertical wire being feed to an auto tuner (SGC, ETC)? The tuner could be hidden in a waterproof box and flowers planted to hide it.  In either case, bury as many radials if you can.  Even short radials would be better then none.  Another option is a random loop/wie attached around the eaves of your house.   This is the option I am going to try.

Randy ka4nma

Posts: 127


« Reply #7 on: December 29, 2012, 09:13:31 PM »

Thanks to all for the reply...

I also like loops, low noise, multiband (with a tuner), and easy to make. As for metric, although Canada is metric, realstate measurements have managed to resist and are still in imperial :-)

Thanks for the welcome, however I've been an Ontario resident since the 70's, just never got around to a Canadian call... A G5RV would actually be a good choice, but unfortunately a center fed dipole is not easy to conceal. A wire running the fence is most probably the way to go, hopefully it won't zap the squirrels who use the fence as a pathway :-)

Will do just that, try different wire configurations till I find the one that works best for me.

I'm currently using a 40m buddypole dipole, however it's not practical taking it down everytime I go QRP, especially during winter.

Mainly 40m and 20m digi.

A flagpole is an option, my neighbours are resistive to the idea, I have played the patriotism card and they did ease down a bit, but it's still a little dodgy.

Summing up:
It is unfortunate but antenna restrictions are very much a reality in my area, and the only way I can get on the air is a concealed antenna.
My small back yard can conceal an irregular shape loop and/or an end fed antenna, or some form of clothesline antenna, also considering a rotary clothsline antenna (something like this: I'm sure I've seen one somewhere... Will give them all a try and see what works :-)

Demetre - VE3/SV1ENS

Posts: 100


« Reply #8 on: December 30, 2012, 07:05:42 AM »

Demetre don't worry about the damn squirrels! If you kill one, another one will replace it  Grin

I like the suggestion that you put up a couple of antennas. If you can build a mag loop for the garage attic that gives you one option.
Then run the wire along the fence line. Or just above it, use small wire and some PVC pipe for supports.

Here is a design for a mag loop built without the expensive vacuum variable capacitor. I am going to build one of these in the new year. It will give me something to do as I am retired and winter days are long and boring for me (No golf  Sad )

Posts: 203

« Reply #9 on: December 30, 2012, 01:31:20 PM »

Here's some inspiration that has worked for one ham:

IMO, I can see you building multiple antenna systems,
one  internal (the garage roof), the other external (on the fence).

Good luck with your endeavour.
Greg, K3ANG
« Last Edit: December 30, 2012, 02:10:04 PM by K3ANG » Logged

Posts: 230

« Reply #10 on: December 30, 2012, 08:12:26 PM »

QST has a wealth of articles.  You could do a base fed vertical wire that is very thin, some radials.

Even better, use an antenna that can be put up and taken down quickly:


MP-1 vertical

Or attic antenna:

Keep us posted; it does not take much to make digital QSO's...even DX!

Posts: 100


« Reply #11 on: December 31, 2012, 03:56:08 AM »

A friend of mine operates a Screwdriver antenna at home using one long radial wire. Works well for him.

Posts: 80

« Reply #12 on: December 31, 2012, 07:14:21 AM »

I'm in the same situation, have been since November 2010.

Some of my antennas have been a 31 foot 10-40 meters S9v vertical (now available from LDG) hidden in the woods behind my house and a 124 foot log wire antenna (10 meters-160 meters) also hidden in the woods behind my house.

That all works fine if you have woods handy and nearby. But in my case it demanded 135 feet of coax buried in my back yard in order to reach the woods .... Plus winds have brought a few treetops down and taken parts of my log wire to the ground.

I want to get rid of the long buried coax run and get as many antennas as possible in or on my house. So I built a 6-20 meter Carolina Windom and hung it from the rafters in my two car garage. I was really amazed at how well this antenna performed so I added length to it to add 30 and 40 meters. While it worked at approximately 10-12 feet off the ground, it was not very satisfactory on 30 or 40 meters. But I did add a 6 meter stub (like a fan dipole, only Carolina Windom style) to it so it's resonant on 6 meters. Though horizontally polarized (mostly) I can easily hit my local 6 meter repeater that's about 10 miles away.

The pitch of my garage's roof is a bit shallow so there's not much room from the rafters to the inside of the roof above them but I'm confident I can attach a small Radio Shack TV rotor to one of the rafters and put a 6 meter Moxon on it.

I run mostly digital modes, around 99% of my QSO's are JT65. There are JT65 frequencies on each band so I mostly go to that frequency and stay there until I change bands. My 30 meter and lower antenna plans include a possible MFJ Magnetic loop, from what I read they're a suprizingly effective antenna but if you move even slightly from your operating frequency you have to retune. Not a problem if you run mostly digital modes such as JT65, JT9 or PSK, etc.

I've been looking longingly at my downspout (rain gutter). I live in a single story house, what I want to do would work much better on a two story house. But I already have everything I need so it will only cost a bit of time to setup.

My house is pre-fab, it has skirting and sits on a slab. So I can easily run a short coax run to one of those MFJ weather proof remote tuners. I can connect the hot lead to the down spout and the ground to my radial field. Because it's winter the radials will quickly be buried in the snow.

My down spout is 10-12 feet vertical to the edge of the roof, then it runs continuously (horizontal) along the edge of my roof for about 60 feet to the other down spout (10-12 feet again) at the other corner of the house. Again, it's a bit low with my single story house so I'm not sure how well it will work. All I need to do is spend an hour or so to find out ...

There are plenty of options, you can stay within your HOA's rules and still be active.

David N1ZHE
« Last Edit: December 31, 2012, 07:17:22 AM by N1ZHE » Logged

Posts: 2

« Reply #13 on: December 31, 2012, 08:10:09 AM »

(This is all in the past couple of weeks and this is my first ever setup)

I just recently put up an '80 meter' loop, about 266 feet long.

It is invisible.

It is tucked under the shingles of my house.  My roof is new composition shingles, and they bend up easily.

My friend and I ran it around the whole perimeter of the roof in an hour.

I used 14g stranded insulated wire which I bought at Lowe's in a 500 foot roll.

The end comes back to the beginning, thus a loop.  I connected it to the feedline (regular TV twinlead, 10 feet) which goes through the house wall via a previously-existing cable TV hole in the wall.

I had also just built a '4:1' balun and tried it with the loop first.  My Elecraft K2 internal antenna tuner was able to find a fairly easy match on most bands.

Then I tried it without the balun and it matched up easily on all bands but 160 meters, where it matches but with a higher SWR.

I am a brand new ham, so take all this as such.

I am using the Elecraft K2 (max 15 watts).

I am making daily contacts on 20 meters all around North America, over 1500 miles.

I have talked regionally on 40 meters and 80 meters, out several hundred miles.

I talked to someone on 17 meters yesterday.

I am just starting out and I am amazed how well this is working.

So, just try something out!!!


(BTW, I don't have any antenna restrictions where I live.  I just wanted to try this as a first antenna/backup antenna/super easy antenna/"All band" antenna)

Posts: 81

« Reply #14 on: December 31, 2012, 11:55:18 AM »

Several of us have had very good luck with small transmitting loops.  They do require more careful assembly than other antennas, but properly sized and assembled, the efficiency can be very respectable.

If you want anecdotal evidence, I have worked plenty of DX using small loops (5' diameter or less) on 40m through 6m.  They are fantastic for domestic QSOs.  Others are having similar results for loops that are carefully constructed.

You can hide a small loop anywhere, indoors or outdoors.  Just paint it some really boring color (gray, brown, dark green, etc.) and nobody will even know what it is.  Throw some kind of cover over it and nobody will ever see it.  You can hide it in bushes, or on the back side of a wooden privacy fence.  You can also hide it in an attic or in an out building.  Hang it above the lawn mower in a shed, and it will never be seen.
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